De-stress in the paws room at Marilyn I. Walker

Photo credit: Adam Griffith on Unsplash

Photo credit: Adam Griffith on Unsplash

Therapeutic Paws of Canada (TPOC) are back at Brock to give students the opportunity to relieve stress through cuddles and doggy kisses.

TPOC will be at Marilyn I. Walker on Tuesday, February 25, 2020, from 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m.

The paws room events are put on by the Student Wellness and Accessibility Centre (SWAC) to give students a chance to de-stress especially around midterm and exam times. TPOC work in partnership with SWAC for these visits on campus.

“It gives students a chance to pause and stop and just really take a minute and enjoy something just for them. It is important for students to stop, be present and enjoy being part of what they are doing. I think if you are petting a dog and feeling the warmth and love of a dog it gives you a moment of joy,” said Julie Fennell, health promotion educator with SWAC.

Sue Robbins, the lead volunteer at TPOC and her dog Pip, a King Charles Cavalier, volunteer their time for the visits to various organizations like Brock. The program has been an organization since 2002. The Niagara Region is one branch of TPOC, which used to be St. John’s Therapy Dogs.

“Our mission is to go into an organization like a hospital, Brock, Ridley College and retirement homes to provide comfort and a little bit of joy in the patients and people in these places. When you pet a dog or pet a cat research shows that it lowers your blood pressure and it can help when you are stressed. We find especially when we come into Brock around the exam period we get a lot of students to see the dogs [and] the dogs love it,” said Robbins.

According to Robbins volunteers, both dogs and handlers go through many rounds of evaluation, which are fairly stringent. They participate in scenarios that may happen and the evaluators watch to see how the dogs will react. There are also three monitored visits, then a probationary check at three months, six months, one year and then everyone has an annual evaluation.

“We feel it is so important that we have the right people and the right dogs in the program. We are very careful about how our dogs are acting and we want to ensure that the organizations they are going into that the dogs are being welcomed and the handlers are following all the rules that they need to follow,” said Robbins.

Brock students are welcome to visit the paws room to see the dogs whether they are missing their dogs at home or need time to de-stress. TPOC tries to have six dogs at Brock’s main campus and two to three at Marilyn I. Walker due to the locations smaller size. Robbins has a few reasons why students should visit them in the paws room.

“Number one is that the dogs are just so darn cute. When we see the smiles on students’ faces it is always rewarding to all our handlers when they come to Brock. I believe it helps them,” said Robbins. “If they are having a bad day that day coming to see the dogs is very helpful to them, even just to have a 10 or 15-minute break in their schedules. When we see the smiles and [see] them taking a deep breath it releases stress and puts smiles on their faces.”

The dogs of TPOC are busy in the region with their red bandanas and leashes that welcome pets and cuddles anytime. Other upcoming events include another visit from TPOC on Brock’s main campus in Pond Inlet on March 5, 2020, from 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.

For more information on TPOC visit or upcoming events for student wellness visit

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